Who invented the design success at America's largest car company, General Motors? The quote inside this news article, link below, helps put things into perspective for modern audiences, "His drive to execute his vision turned Harley Earl into a car industry disruptor, 70 years before disruptors became cool. GM's competitors didn't want to redesign their cars every year. But Harley Earl's success forced them to."
The innovative team of leaders at GM during the mid-twentieth century stood behind Pioneer-Earl and created the modern Car Design soul that in tune helped forge the meteoric rise of today's global automotive economy.
From university students to Vietnam veterans to Fortune 500 executives and Nonprofits, the story behind this American auto heritage is as important as it is inspiring.
CAR INDUSTRY DISRUPTOR
Being America's Car Design Pioneer, Harley J. Earl (HJE) was the global auto industry's first design superstar, and to this day, is largely responsible for turning car designers into the rock stars of the auto industry. Leslie M. Kendall, chief curator of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, Ca. put it this way, "Harley J. Earl is one of the most hotly collected artists of the 20th Century, whose name is ironically often unknown among collectors of his work."
Car-architect-Earl was the first person to bridge the art world to mass production in the auto industry and this pioneering engineer of desire called it, “the Modern Art of Industry.” Through Harley's studio doors rolled the cars that would ignite a nation's love affair with the automobile, establishing Detroit as the auto design capital of the world, creating a huge contemporary art market, and enabling the auto industry to become mid-twentieth-century America’s economic backbone. His accolades are as numerous as they are diverse: inventing the concept car, being the first to use full-size clay modeling, fathering the Corvette, hiring and advancing women car designers, first hands-free autonomous cars, creating the landmark Car Design Scholarship program, and supplying the auto design curriculum to such universities as Art Center College of Design and Pratt Institute.
The Earl automotive story didn’t begin with Harley, but rather with his father, Jacob W. Earl ("JW" to his friends), a late 19th Century coach builder, who started the family’s auto heritage seven years before Henry Ford built his first car in 1896 (see a four-part online series on the Earl’s “California Years” at theoldmotor.com). No wonder JW's great-grandson, Richard Earl, has so much driving passion, he’s part of what could be, “America’s oldest continuous auto legacy dating back to 1889.” Or, as Richard likes to say since he's currently shaping up a book, “it’s a story 128 years in the making, and, uncovers a whole new mythology behind the American dream.”
By 1969, most all of the top auto industry execs (in and outside of America) knew HJE invented the Auto Design Profession (ADP); find out how and why this changed as time passed.
See thousands of historical photos at the "Harley J. Earl – I LOVE AUTOMOBILES" facebook page w/ over 50+K likes.